WHEN then-Gov. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat, needed solutions to the public health fear created by PFAS exposure in Merrimack’s drinking water, she embraced an idea from Republican Town Council Member Bill Boyd. His idea was to have the Department of Health and Human Services perform a limited communitywide blood serum test to assess the scope of the problem.
Partly labels didn’t matter. The community faced a crisis. Together Hassan and Boyd, Democrat and Republican, acted for the betterment of the public they served.
This has been the story of Boyd’s 10 years on the Merrimack Town Council and four years on the state Drinking Water and Groundwater Advisory Commission. Boyd has held the line on local property taxes, protected property owners from Kinder Morgan’s eminent domain claims, led the fight against Saint-Gobain’s alleged negligence in polluting the community’s aquifers, and created strong economic development opportunities for large and small businesses.
He invariably points out he is but one of seven town councilors and that the success of New Hampshire’s ninth largest community has been a team effort.
Bill Boyd is the kind of public servant who has made the Granite State the jewel of the Northeast for generations; quiet, hardworking, and dedicated individuals who feel duty bound to do right by their neighbors.
On April 13, Boyd will square off against former state Rep. Wendy Thomas to fill the vacancy left by the tragic passing of Speaker Dick Hinch in December.
Boyd is a conservative Republican. Thomas is a liberal Democrat. Yet the primary distinctions in this special election are neither ideological nor partisan. Rather, they have to do with how the respective candidates view public service itself. Boyd sees high public office as a high public trust, a job in service to the community. Thomas appears to view public office as a position of high exaltation and a soapbox from which to sermonize the public, especially when they don’t see things her way.
Thomas created a surprising amount of news during her one and only term in the New Hampshire House of Representatives.
In February of 2020, she was reprimanded by then-Speaker of the House Democrat Stephen Shurtleff with a “Letter of Caution” for her abhorrent behavior during a visit to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
An employee of the DMV reported at the time that Thomas berated her when asked for additional forms of identification in order for Thomas to secure her Real ID. “This is f---ing ridiculous,” Thomas is reported to have said.
“I’m a state rep. I shouldn’t be subjected to this,” she said to another employee.
“To have a NH State Representative treat us like this is awful,” one of the employees wrote.
Some time later, Thomas was one of three state representatives who refused to stand during the National Anthem at the June 30, 2020 session of the House. A photo of her kneeling during the “Star Spangled Banner” hit the wires and ran in countless newspapers across the country. “I was sending a message — America is in trouble,” she said at the time.
Thomas seeks public office to be served rather than to serve. And she views the position as a license to lecture the unenlightened masses.
Recent years have brought us a growing number of Thomas’s kind; elected officials who consider themselves close to a ruling class. Sen. Jeanne Dietsch (D–Peterborough) argued last year that only “well educated” parents should be permitted to make education decisions for their children. She singled out carpenters as uniquely unqualified to do so. Rep. Linda Tanner (D-Georges Mills) belittled people with a two-year community college education. Rep. Michael Cahill (D-Newmarket) argued that if your small business can’t afford paid sick leave for your employees, you shouldn’t be in business at all.
Thomas is wrong not only on the spirit of public service but on the issues, as well. She supported and forcefully defended the income tax Gov. Chris Sununu vetoed and which cost so many Democrats their seats in the November election.
There undoubtedly is a constituency for this kind of virtue signaling and status snobbery. Here’s hoping that constituency isn’t large enough in Merrimack on April 13 to elect Wendy Thomas.
Special elections are low-turnout affairs and the results are sometimes enigmatic. This campaign has special significance, however. Dick Hinch held the seat for many years. Just as he assumed the speaker’s gavel, COVID-19 took his life. Will his replacement continue his work of humble public service and fiscally conservative governance? Or will his replacement veer in a new direction characterized by bigger government, higher taxes, and condescension?
Do Merrimack voters want to be represented or ruled?